William Hogarth. “Morning.” London: Baldwin, Cradock, and Joy, 1822. 17 3/4 x 14 3/4. Wove paper. A strong impression. Very good condition.
William Hogarth (1697-1764) is considered by many to be the greatest English caricaturist of all time. He was a perceptive observer and his illustrations of the social and political conduct of his day are fascinating historical documents and humorous depictions of human foibles, which have remained much the same over the last two centuries. Hogarth was a painter of considerable accomplishment but it is for his prints that he is best known.
Originally, Hogarth sold his prints in his own shop, as well as through other printsellers in London. In the mid-1730s he began also to sell his prints in bound form. Hogarth’s fame spread and his popularity grew. However, while his prints sold well, Hogarth was constantly bothered by the sale of cheap copies. In response, he was instrumental in the 1735 passage of the Engravers’ Copyright Act, often called “Hogarth’s Act,” which prohibited the unauthorized copying of a print for fourteen years following its publication. Early in his career, a number of Hogarth’s plates were acquired by other printsellers, but most he retained in his possession until his death, leaving them in his will to his widow, Jane Hogarth. Jane continued to issue prints from these plates and she was able to secure an extended copyright of 20 years beginning in 1767. Upon Jane’s death in 1789, the plates passed into the possession of printmaker, John Boydell. Boydell reissued the folio twice, and the plates were later acquired by Baldwin, Cradock & Joy in 1818. They were then reissued in 1822 after being “restored” by James Heath.
This original painting of this wonderful image, from Hogarth’s “Four Times of Day” series, was done for Jonathan Tyers, owner of Vauxhall Gardens, for a display. The image shows a ‘typical’ winter day in Covent Garden. As with other early works, Hogarth is being mildly satirical rather than overtly didactic in his depiction of street life in London. In the center a wealthy woman walking toward Inigo Jones’ St. Paul’s on a freezing morning without a coat and accompanied by a freezing young page who carries her prayer book. She ignores a beggar and distains cavorting couples. Between her and the church is Tom King’s Coffee House where the night’s revelries are still going on with a brawl breaking out. In the background the activities of Covent Garden market are beginning surrounded by typical architecture of the area.